Ilott in ‘very good position’ for F1 drive

Henry Valantine
Callum Ilott Portimao 2021 PA

Callum Ilott Portimao 2021 PA

Young British driver Callum Ilott says he feels like he is in a “very, very good position” to get himself a full-time drive in Formula 1 next season.

Ilott, 22, is currently a member of Ferrari’s junior programme and acts as the test driver for both the Scuderia and Alfa Romeo – having had a run in Antonio Giovinazzi’s car in FP1 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Having finished as runner-up in Formula 2 last season, Ilott has seen some of his contemporaries rise to the top table of motorsport and make a solid start – which pleased the British hopeful.

“Yuki made a great impression in Bahrain – it was really good to watch, actually,” Ilott said to Autosport.

“So from that side, it was a good benchmark to say, ‘look, here’s what one guy can do’. With Mick, we all know that he takes a bit of time to get there. But once he’s there, he will be good. And you can already see the pace is getting better.

“I think they’re doing a good job, and I think it’s only a matter of time before the reference is even closer. And it’s easier for me to say, ‘well, I was in the middle of these two guys!’

“I still think I’m in a very, very good position. Yes, I have to wait a year. I’ve seen people wait two.

“The focus is still on doing the best job as possible on the GT side, and the FP1 side, and then hopefully an opportunity may present itself.”

Callum Ilott, Ferrari junior driver
Callum Ilott, Ferrari junior driver

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With Ilott taking part in practice at the Portuguese Grand Prix, he is set for another outing in FP1 in France after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur added he could feature in as many as eight practice sessions in the season.

But with other series calling upon his services and uncertainty around another season in F2, Ilott remains sure that not running in single seaters on a regular basis will be a stumbling block on his way to a hopeful future F1 drive.

“I had discussions, within Ferrari, within the F2 teams,” Ilott said of his 2021 plans.

“But the call was on the late side of what the situation was for F1. And so by that time, you had a lot of the F2 teams already decided, and it’s not so easy to then change teams again and be in another unfamiliar environment.

“I finished second in the championship with five poles and three wins. I was as close as you were going to get to winning it – not that you don’t want to take that risk.

“I love to race F2, it was a great format, it’s just there was only one place better I could go. And I think with the three races [in the new format], a lot has changed.

“Also, as much as regular driving is important, which it is, if you need to need jump in, I think there’s another level of information that you need to learn from F1 which I wasn’t going to maximise if I was doing a full race season in F2.”

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